Friday, November 23, 2018

Ghosts at the Table

It was a quiet Thanksgiving, with just my boys and me at the table.  Big Cuter knocked his wine while reaching for his father's hand but that was the only blip in the evening.  My mashed potatoes came close to matching Little Cuter's creations, my turkey only took 35 minutes longer to cook than I'd planned, and Whole Foods' pre-made gravy ensured that everything arrived at the table at the same time, warm and tender as it could be.

We were thankful.  They were complimentary.  There were left-overs.  There were ghosts.

Christina-Taylor appeared first, hovering over my shoulder as I decided which serving pieces to use.  She and G'ma had that chore in 2010, just six weeks before the bullets began to fly.  Which ones should I use? she wondered.  Ask G'ma, said I.  And so the youngest and the oldest guests talked about the history of this silver spoon and that slotted spoon and I listened as they made wise choices.  My mother sitting on her walker, my little friend flitting from here to there, so proud of herself, reveling in the trust that she and she alone could make such monumental decisions.

I spent a few minutes imagining the world with CTG still in it.  I do that a lot.  On Thanksgiving, in my kitchen, alone, making those same decisions, she was very close at hand.

Daddooooo's death is recorded on one day, happened on another, and he has a Hebrew calendar date added on to confuse the issue.  I chose the Saturday before Thanksgiving as my time of remembrance, because that's when it happened,  but the government and his body call it the 22nd and 23rd -the night it happened and the date, after midnight, when the hospice nurse got there to officially record the event.  Just like everything else in his life, it's difficult.

But the memories of that Thanksgiving, sitting at my childhood dining table, all the leaves added to accommodate the mourners, the diners, the family and friends, outweigh the drama of his life.  Letters from those who knew him made us laugh: We knew that we were in for it when HE walked in to a School Board meeting.  His facts were there, and so was he.  He always made an impression, and he was usually right.  I wouldn't mind that as part of my obituary, an obituary which, like his, was printed in The New York Times. 

It wasn't hard for me to write it.  He, just as he admonished us, never did anything that couldn't be printed in the paper.

I walked outside with my book, took a seat on a lounge chair and watched the clouds scoot across the sky.  It was grey, which felt appropriate, but I stared at the empty pool and saw sunshine and FlapJilly squealing with delight.  I wish I loved something as much as she loves this pool, my son murmured in my ear that Thanksgiving when the kids traveled from the Midwest to be with us.  They spent this holiday in Indiana, surrounded by SIR's family, but there's an indelible impression in my backyard and in my heart.

Tryptophan coma prevented me from writing this last night.  Today, the sun is up, my brain is working, and my heart is filled with the ghosts of holidays past.   I'll spend the weekend getting ready for the Brownie List, hugging my boy, and trying to avoid the stores.  There aren't a lot of memories made while waiting in line at Kohl's.

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